Chapter 1 - Silencing a Snitch
Pablo Ricci was a well-known snitch around the city and now he was in some seriously deep shit; that much he knew for certain!
The middle-aged bald construction manager had been grabbed in the middle of the night from his place of business and brought to this mysterious location by several men wearing well-pressed black business suits.
These men worked for the incredible rich and infamous Mafia Boss, Dante Romano.
The heavily armed men were after information and rumour had it that Pablo possessed this particular key piece of information.
His heart was thumping loudly over and over within his hairy chest as he knelt in silence on the hardened cement floor of a small, dimly-lit room.
The air around him smelt of copper; usually an unfortunate telling sign of blood being nearby in their type of industry; waste management, so to speak.
A black silken sack had been pulled over his head, ever since he was first grabbed and even now it remained in place, preventing him from seeing anything around him.
Pablo was currently surrounded by several well-dressed Mafia henchmen, each was armed and fully prepared to put him down if and when they were given the signal to do so.
Swallowing nervously, Pablo listened in as he suddenly heard the approaching sound of expensive Italian loafers clapping across the cement floor, one agonisingly slow footstep after another.
Someone was coming closer.
“Who’s there?” he called out, his head turning around from side to side in an effort to see something, anything!
“Someone tell me why I’m here. Why have you brought me here?”
“You know why you’re here Pablo.”
Dante’s voice was deep and silky smooth as he tapped the end of his cigarette and caused a small amount of silver ash to fall towards the ground in front of their captive.
He then went on to casually lift the cigarette up to meet his lips again and took another long drag.
His eyes sparkled in light of the cigarette’s burning ash.
Within an instance the silk hood was pulled off Pablo’s head by one of the henchman.
As it was, it revealed the room to their captive and Pablo squinted his eyes from the sudden blinding light.
It took a moment for his eye sight to adjust to the dim lighting but eventually he could see everything, including the dangerously intimidating Mafia Boss standing less than a metre in front of him, casually smoking a cigarette.
His heart sank upon realising what this meant.
Pablo spoke a whisper of disbelief as he began to sweat nervously.
He was in deep shit alright!
“Tell me where he is, and I might decide to be lenient with you.” Dante continued to press, his tone of voice unusually calm.
“Please, I don’t know what you’re talking about…” Pablo began to beg.
Dante had always hated begging.
Rolling his glistening green eyes with frustration, he turned and nodded his head towards the henchman standing beside their kneeling captive.
Pablo saw this and panicked.
“Dante, please, I don’t know…”
Nicola, the giant-of-a-man with the gun standing beside the kneeling Pablo quickly moved in on their captive, proceeding to cock the black glock he had been holding onto and then place the weapon’s nozzle firmly up against the side of Pablo’s bald head.
Apparently they weren’t kidding.
“Holy shit! Please... please no!”
“I’m normally a patient man, Pablo, but I won’t ask again.”
Dante spoke sternly, smoke billowing out from his open mouth as both his brows rose with his voiced warning.
“Ok, ok! Just don’t shoot…” Pablo pleaded, glancing between Dante and the man with the gun standing beside him.
“All I have is a name. Just a name.”
“Just a name?” Dante clarified.
Letting out a restrained sigh, Dante pursed his lips before speaking.
Dante narrowed his eyes in suspicion.
“Pablo, I’m not sure if you’ve realised this or not but, Natalia is a woman’s name.” Dante reminded him coolly, smirking as his men each chuckled from their positions around the room.
“I was told the contact was a man.”
“Yeah, I didn’t believe it either, at first. But their contact is actually a woman. What you heard were nothing but rumours concocted by that asshole Rafael and his men. They’re trying to throw you and his other rivals off his scent... It’s the God’s honest truth, I swear!”
Dante’s eyes narrowed.
“Where’s the shipment docking? What time? Details Pablo, come on…”
Dante continued his interrogation, tapping the end of his cigarette again.
“Like I told you, I only know the bitch’s name.” Pablo admitted, somewhat out of breath.
“Nothing else. They never told me any of the other stuff, I swear to you man.”
Closing his eyes, Dante took a moment to compose himself in silence. When he spoke again, his voice was stern and commanding.
“Then you’re of no further use to me…”
Dante turned to walk away but stopped as soon as he heard his captive’s voice of desperation pleading once more.
Pausing, the Mafia Boss slowly turned back around to listen to what his kneeling captive had to say.
Pablo panted, breathing heavily with fear.
“I…I might know one more thing…”
Dante’s emerald eyes narrowed as he smiled menacingly.
“Go ahead… I’m listening.”
Once his men had finished cleaning up the mess left behind after disposing of the loose-lipped Pablo, Nicola found Dante standing by the two-way mirrored window peering out over the currently empty nightclub that Dante himself owned.
‘High Stakes Nightclub’ it was called.
He and his connections had been busily searching for any details relating to an upcoming shipment of illegal guns and ammunition that was rumoured to be arriving in a matter of days, courtesy of his long-time rival Don Rafael Greco.
Rafael was yet another powerful and extremely dangerous Mafia Boss in the city and had recently been seeking to lay claim over Dante’s territory and overrun his business.
And honestly, it was really beginning to piss Dante off!
“Boss, the er… mess is taken care of.” Nicola announced with his Italian accent.
He came to stand beside his brooding boss.
“So what’s next?”
“We now have a name, but it’s not much to go on.” Dante reminded, peering out into the darkness of the empty club.
“There could be hundreds of Natalias in this city alone. We need to find out more about Rafael’s contact.”
Dante turned to face his second in command.
“Do what you do best. Put your feelers out, Nicola. See what you can find out about this so-called shipment. I want details by tomorrow night, got it?”
“Si, boss.” Nicola nodded.
“Oh, and don’t forget you’ve got that board meeting tomorrow morning at ten.”
Dante scrunched up his face in anger.
“Fuck, where is it again?” he queried.
“In at the Head Office, boss.” Nicola replied.
“That fucker Harworth’s been hounding me all day about confirming your attendance for this. Must be pretty big… Said something about unveiling something and he needs you there for the official presentation and approval.”
“Why can’t Matteo or Roberto represent the company for a change?” Dante queried, seeming frustrated at being summoned by someone as menial as Gary Harworth.
Gary was the COO, or Chief Operations Officer of his family company, Romano Enterprises.
“I’m sure either one of my bastard brothers have nothing better to do on a Saturday morning.”
“Sorry boss, I’ve already checked.” Nicola explained solemnly.
“Roberto’s currently out of the country and Matteo’s already tied up with the whole search for the missing shipment.”
“Typical.” Dante cursed under his breath.
“Fine, tell Harworth I’ll make an appearance.”
He turned around to face his second-in-command with a stern expression on his face as he pointed with his hand holding onto the cigarette as he spoke.
“But if that prick thinks I’m sticking around for any press conferences or appearances he’s got another thing coming.” Dante snapped.
“One hour, that’s all he gets. Make sure he understands that.”
With a nod of his head Nicola smiled as he turned on his heel and headed out of the viewing box, leaving Dante alone to continue brooding in the overwhelming darkness surrounding him.
It wasn’t long before he would have to put on his alternate persona and play nice for the sake of his company, Romano Enterprises and its countless employees.
There had always been two different sides to Dante Romano.
The fresh, well-groomed businessman who controlled Romano Enterprises, and the brooding, merciless Mob Boss known around town as The Reaper.
That is how it had always been with him.
And things weren’t about to change.
Not for anything!
The sad truth was that not one of his employees knew him well enough, who he truly was deep down inside.
Little did they know, the real Dante Romano was much darker than they could have ever possibly imagined.